08 June 2007

Storming the Gates of Paradise

"There [at the Nevada Test Site] I also learned that the
is no less beautiful when you are wearing
handcuffs ..." - Rebecca Solnit


It is funny how these things work. A couple of days ago I posted on Robert Adams and his recent book Along Some Rivers and I imagined a conversation with him. Extending on that I tried to imagine the perfect interlocutor and settled eventually on Rebecca Solnit. Whereas Adams is a photographer who likes to talk and, on occasion, write, Solnit is a critic and writer rather than a photographer. She surely is more directly active politically and arguably is less conservative aesthetically than is Adams. Yet their preoccupations overlap or intersect to a remarkable degree - photography, hope, environmental degradation, the landscape of the American West, and beauty. I suspect that a conversation with Adams and Solnit would be lively and truly engaging.

In any case, this evening I stopped to look for Vaclav Havel's new memoir To The the Castle & Back and ended up buying not just it, but this new collection of Solnit's essays Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes of Politics. The opening quote, above, is from the introduction to the book where Solnit attests to having learned to write at various protests at the Nevada Test Site in the late 1980's. I cannot imagine Robert Adams connecting beauty and politics in quite the way Solnit does there. But I would be interested to hear how he might reply to such a statement.

P.S.: The cover photograph on Solnit's book is Cloud, #5 (1987) by Richard Misrach.

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